ABC signed on WENR-TV, Channel 7, in 1948 from Chicago.
When ABC merged with Untied Paramount Theaters in 1953, it ended up with two TV stations – WENR-TV and UPT’s WBKB-TV, Channel 4. The FCC made it give up one station. ABC sold the Channel 4 license to CBS, which formed WBBM-TV. The station later moved to Channel 2.
ABC kept Channel 7 and the WBKB-TV call letters. The station became WLS-TV in 1968.
The following year, WLS-TV’s newscasts began using the “Eyewitness News” format that sister WABC-TV in New York City adopted. Anchors Fahey Flynn and Joel Daly anchored the newscasts into the 1980s. By 1973, Eyewitness News on WLS surpassed WMAQ-TV as the top-rated local news operation in Chicago. WBBM-TV topped WLS in 1979.
Fahey died in 1983. WLS dropped dropped to third place. The station made changes, including hiring Oprah Winfrey to host its low-rated morning talk show, “A.M. Chicago.” On-air staff and format changes helped boost WLS’ local news ratings, as noted in this 1985 ad. Channel 7 reclaimed the No. 1 spot by 1986. It has been the top-rated local TV news operation ever since.
In 1996, WLS dropped the “Eyewitness News” name in favor of “ABC 7 News.” It brought back the “Eyewitness News” name in 2013.
Here is a collection of WLS-TV news opens over the decades:
YouTube also has a complete 1981 newscast:
This 1981 promo features Fahey Flynn and other WLS “Eyewitness News” personalities: